Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Oh! The Smell of Early Summer!

Have you ever, come June let's say, noticed a lovely fragrance in the air? I have. Now, later in summer as I write this, the scent has faded or as my brother suggested, been overlaid with other more redolent summer smells, but cast your mind back to those early summer evenings...

For me it's a hallmark of that time, late late spring or early summer. You can smell it anywhere there's anything green growing. Maybe it's somewhat fainter downtown where it's mostly asphalt and buildings, but where we live it's streets lined with apartment buildings, having bits of green here and there and trees sticking up through their little allotted slots in the pavement. Of course behind the buildings the irregularly-shaped courtyards have their plantings of flowers and grass and trees too. And the scent is strong.

When I come home of a pleasant June evening, or later as it's just getting dark, the delicious sweet smell surrounds me, tantalizing, captivating.

What is it? It doesn't seem to come from anywhere in particular; it's all over the place. My best guess is that it's tree pollen, but I have yet to have a botanist confirm this.

And the smell itself - what's it like? It's pleasant; it's sweetish. Well we all know smells are notoriously hard to pin down. Add to that my own personal poorly developed sense of taste especially. If I am given a slice of bread with jam on it, I have a hard time identifying it, especially if I don't see what color it is. If I see Red, then I can rule out a bunch. But in any case I taste it, and somehow know the taste, but can't put my finger on it till I'm told "Peach, of course!" and then I slap my forehead and say "Oh, yeah, sure." This may be some kind of deficiency on my part.

But in any case this scent I'm talking about is a really delightful facet of those warm, glowing evenings: the sun sets late, the light lingers long; it's shirtsleeve weather. And as you walk up the block to your door every breath you takes in this sweet, almost magical smell.

1 comment:

  1. I just read an entire book about the sense of smell called "What the Nose Knows." Well-written, fun and informative book. Has me thinking about this very special sense of ours. Such a smell as you describe might be strongly noticeable as it heralds the change of seasons, coming hard upon the possibly more sterile, less botanical smells of winter. It also strikes me that to some people, this smell and its accompanying effects might have a negative connotation, seasonal allergy sufferers as they might be!